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BAAPS cosmetic surgery figures for the year 2013-2014 came somewhat as a surprise. They did not only demonstrate an overall drop from the previous year’s figures, they also posted a significant decrease for the first time in history since the data publication had commenced.

This decline was spearheaded by the most popular cosmetic procedure of all; breast augmentation surgery, the drop was 23% as opposed to the preceding year’s increase of 11%.

The views expressed by a number of credible bodies as to why this decline occurred were multitude and diverse.

These views included;

  • The previous year’s figures were inflated due to post austerity improved economy, leading to a feel good factor leading to more patients spending on cosmetic surgery; however, this had slowed down over the last year.
  • TV programs and media coverage of cosmetic surgery having a degree of negative influence on cosmetic surgery nationally; which affected the number of patients undergoing cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation.
  • The PIP breast implants that were explanted and replaced contributed to the inflated figures of the year before last, and now that the numbers are slowing down the figures have adjusted back to ‘normality’.
  • Cosmetic tourism is on the increase, encouraged by the strength of the sterling relative to the Euro. This change has a further negative impact on the number of cases of cosmetic surgery performed in the UK.
  • Being a Plastic surgeon, trained in the art of cosmetic surgery and on the specialist register of the GMC is not necessarily a stringently policed prerequisite requirement to be able to provide cosmetic surgery. This creates an unfair competition in an unequally regulated market.

If we took all the above factors I would suggest that they all have a variable degree of impact on the overall decline of the cosmetic surgery cases performed by BAAPS surgeons especially breast augmentation, and its is difficult to give one reason more weight than others.

However, the figures published are not necessarily reflective of the true numbers of cosmetic procedures being undertaken in the UK including breast enlargement, as there is no specific database, which chelates such figures accurately and transparently nationally. Nonetheless, BAAPS currently is the only credible body that publishes such figures for cosmetic surgery in the UK on behalf of its members with their support.

In the case of breast augmentation surgery, the commonest cosmetic procedure in the UK, the numbers are estimated to be is in the region of 40,000 cases a year. The BAAPS figures for its members make up less than 25% of that total, yet the members, one can argue, are the most credible body of cosmetic surgeons in the UK; yet they do not get their fare share of the workload.

One asks as to why does the most regulated credible body of recognised cosmetic surgeons, the BAAPS members are so disadvantaged in offering the patients their service, support and after care?

Again a number of factors may come into play and as in most aspects of life it is rarely only one factor that prevails; however, there is usually at least 1-2 factors that will be more dominant than others.

Such factors in this case include:

  • The price of the procedure; this is a main driver to many a patient as a decision breaker especially during recession, and those who have limited budgets. Patients are savvy and want the best for a bargain price. However, if one was to think carefully the best in life always commands a price. Quality will always prevail and comes at a cost, and there is only one level of quality to offer; the highest.
  • BAAPS members are not only self regulated but also regulated by the bylaws and edicts of the association to protect the patient at all times. Hence the Plastic surgeons are somewhat restricted as to how much they can be visible on the internet without being seen to be too sales and marketing orientated.
  • The consultation charge/fee seen by many patients to be a deterrent from seeing a BAAPS consultant Plastic surgeon and they would favour to go the route of companies that offer free consultations.
  • The other reason may be as simple as doctors/ surgeons are too busy caring for their patients’ outcomes and aftercare and do not have the time or inkling to be savvy business people or entrepreneurs. After all at medical schools doctors learn about medicine and not business or marketing.

So where do we go from here?

The remedies to challenges are to identify these hurdles and work through them. Unfortunately the solutions are not always simple or available from the outset. For example the edicts of the all the regulating bodies including BAAPS are to be respected and upheld at all times.

Consultation charges, are fees for a professional high quality service, are a requirement by the BAAPS for its members to uphold. The time you as patient spend with your consultant Plastic/cosmetic surgeon must be seen as an investment in your future and the outcomes of your surgery, and when looked at in intricacy it is a relatively small price to pay in the long run.

This precious time in clinic is provided to you by an experienced consultant Plastic/cosmetic surgeon who has been through a very stringent system of training in the UK. Our system is the envy of the world and not only well respect but also very sought after by surgeon the world over. So let us all work together to keep it maintained to this highest standard. The saying; quality comes at a price stems to mind again, and quality will always prevails. After all surgery is a life event and aspiring to achieve the best outcomes is paramount at all times, there are no cutting corners and there is only one standard of care, the best.

One can see from the case of the PIP faulty breast implants; if a product is cheap or much cheaper than others then there is a good reason, the compromise has to occur somewhere and unfortunately in the latter case it was at the expense of patients.

Having a credible cosmetic surgeon in your locality, in a CQC accredited well-respected hospital in your locality, using the best breast implants the market can offer with excellent aftercare packages, robust insurance packages, and sympathetic supportive staff is the way forward. Your experienced surgeon will always be there for you and so would the nursing staff in the time of your clinical need.

As a patient, cosmetic surgery is as an investment and what may appear a reasonable price for its provision in the beginning may become costly financially, psychologically, and at the expense of your health in the long term and non of this is conducive to your health longevity or well being. So please weigh your decision carefully and do not get deterred by cost and let not the price be your main driving force to decision making.

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